Afro-jazz Zimbabwean artist based in South Africa, Bella Charlie has paid tribute to the late Sam Mtukudzi, whom she described as her greatest inspiration.
By Nomuzi Mtunzi
Charlie, who was a backing vocalist at Mtukudzi’s AY Band, believes the experience she gained at the late singer’s youthful ensemble moulded her into the artist she is today.
Mtukudzi, son of renowned musician Oliver Mtukudzi, died on March 15 2010 in an accident that also claimed the life of Owen Chimhare, his friend and sound engineer.
“I would describe my stint with the late Sam as the cornerstone of my career. I gained a lot of exposure and encouragement which inspired me to be what I am today and I appreciate that. He made a big difference in my career.
I miss AY Band, Martha, Tatenda and Owen,” said Charlie.
Apart from singing, Charlie also composes songs and is a percussionist, having started her music career many years ago when she sang at the Gospel Train.
She now fronts an Afro-jazz outfit called Afro Blaze based in South Africa.
“I have been in South Africa for some time where I have been working with South African and Zimbabwean artists and this has propelled me in the industry,” she said.
In Zimbabwe, Charlie went through the hands of many, including music icons such as Bethany Pasinawako, Andy Brown, Chiwoniso Maraire, Nkosana Mtunzi and Selmor Mtukudzi, among others.
She believes that her career is a journey on which she has to positively influence others and the populace at large.
“I have had a low self-esteem which I managed to overcome over a few shows and the experience I had as a backing vocalist. As a female musician, I also faced challenges like intimidation, discrimination and criticism but you know if you set your own agenda, you prevail,” she said.
The songstress said she was learning how to play mbira.